Biosenix is a medical technology startup whose primary goal is to develop novel medical devices and systems to enable independent living and better health monitoring for older adults. The creation of the company and product development was motivated by the needs of our aging parents. Both company founders have parents in their 70s that live alone at home and are far away. In my case, my mom lives 4 hours away by plane, and my cofounder’s parents live on another continent. Our parents are very active in doing gardening and many other household duties. We are worried that some of the activities may result in accidents, and our parents may get hurt, fall, and not be able to call for help. Our parents also expressed concerns that they may not be able to get help if something happens to them. In particular, my mom lives by herself and is so worried that she carries her smartphone with her everywhere in case she needs to call for help. While the smartphone gives some sense of security, she is still worried that if she hurt herself, she may not be able to reach the phone or being able to dial for help.
We are both very involved in our parent’s health; however, being so far away makes it difficult to monitor our parents’ wellbeing. At best, we find much later or not at all that they have fallen, got hurt, but managed to get up and did not tell us about the incidents. If they don’t answer the phone when we call, we worry that something may have happened to them, especially if we are not able to reach them for several hours. Many times we asked friends or relatives to check on our parents only to find out that they were fine and left the smartphone at home charging while they were outside doing some gardening. While there are existing medical alert devices, they do not provide information about the wellbeing of the user in real-time and only summon help in case of usually serious injury.
We decided to develop a device that could immediately tell that our parents did not fall and everything is OK. We also want to be notified if a fall occurs and be able to discuss it with our parents and attempt to address the reasons for a fall early to maintain our parents’ health. Our parents and many other older adults are embarrassed or afraid to admit to falls as it indicates a need for more care and potential loss of independence. However, if properly addressed, the progression into frailty can be slowed down or reversed if detected and treated early enough. Since we are not able to observe our parents daily, the remote monitoring that tells us their health status, activity level, and detects falls is critical for being able to be involved with their health.
While the product and company ideas were formatted based on our parents, we reached out to local organizations that provide care for older adults who live independently at home and retirement communities and organizations to understand the needs of older adults better. We explored the views and opinions of older adults and the perspective of medical personnel and caretakers involved in caring for older adults. Numerous discussions and similar experiences helped us formulate the features for SenixBand and SenixCare infrastructure. Being a startup allows us to make decisions faster and adapt quickly to the needs expressed by older adults. We continue to design comprehensive health and wellbeing monitoring solutions for older adults no matter where they are and extend the ability for independent living while providing the health monitoring they need.
Through numerous interviews with older adults, we found out that most of them want to live independently at home for as long as they can, which is also confirmed by AARP study, indicating that nearly 90% of people over age 65 want to stay at home for as long as possible. Living at home and staying in a familiar community may benefit older adults’ emotional wellbeing; however, many of them live at home alone and may benefit from better monitoring and care. If you have parents that live independently, you probably discovered similar facts about your parents. As you can see, you are not alone. According to the Institute of Aging, 65 and older adults currently account for 14.9% of the population. By 2030, as the last Baby Boomers turn 65, older adults are expected to reach 20% of the population. Of the older adults living outside nursing homes or hospitals in 2010, nearly one-third (11.3 million) lived alone. The likelihood of living alone increases with age. Among women age 75+, almost half (47%) lived alone in 2010. Subsequently, the concerns are shared by a larger population, and Biosenix is here to help. Together, we can increase the quality of life for older adults that we care for.
Biosenix has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant to conduct research and development work on SenixBand and SenixCare ecosystem. “NSF is proud to support the technology of the future by thinking beyond incremental developments and funding the most creative, impactful ideas across all markets and areas of science and engineering,” said Andrea Belz, Division Director of the Division of Industrial Innovation and Partnerships at NSF. “With the support of our research funds, any deep technology startup or small business can guide basic science into meaningful solutions that address tremendous needs.” The award helped us explore the needs of older adults in great detail and accelerate research and development of the SenixCare ecosystem to address the needs and provide the solution that will enable older adults to live independently.